Book Review / Books

2023 in Book Reviews: Project Hail Mary, The Silent Bride, Heartless & The Call

Today, I’m bringing you tales of space exploration, Wonderland and… marriage and murder? Not all in one book, obviously. Although, that does sound like it would either be a Booker-winning avant-garde read or a hot mess. While we wait for someone to write that novel (unless it already exists?), I’m going to diving into how I felt about Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary, Shalini Boland’s The Silent Bride, Marissa Meyer’s Heartless and P.D. Viner’s The Call.


Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone..

I have a confession to make. I am one of the few people left on this planet who hasn’t read The Martian. Criminal of me, I know. However, as much as I was a sci-fi nerd back in the day, I always figured that space novels weren’t going to be my jam so I just never picked one up. After seeing all the GoodReads hype about Project Hail Mary and deciding on a whim to give it a go, boy, am I disappointed in myself.

While I admittedly had to scan some of the more extreme science talk in this book, Project Hail Mary was incredible. Space travel, cellular evolution and a race against time to save the planet – what’s not to love? The best part are Weir’s characters. Weir has a fantastic wit and that shines through in our leading man Ryland Grace. Not only was his internal monologue so entertaining, but the the dialogue between him and Eva Stratt, the woman behind the mission, was snappy and smart. Despite all the complex science whizzing over my head, it never felt boring or tedious. Project Hail Mary is a masterclass in writing.

However, the best part for me was Rocky. Never have I ever cared more about a character and their safety than Rocky. Too good, too pure. The friendship between Grace and Rocky was the heart of this novel – I may have even shed some tears. The fact that there are plans to adapt this book into a movie with Ryan Gosling in the lead role may just finish me off. Scatter my ashes in space (don’t hold me to that, pls!).


It’s the wedding day of Alice’s dreams. Until it becomes a nightmare… Alice and Seth are a perfect love story: the handsome doctor and his beautiful fiancée. They’re wealthy, well liked and made for each other—the envy of all their friends. Alice can’t wait for the day of their dream wedding. But when she arrives at the altar, she doesn’t recognise the man waiting to marry her.

When this stranger insists he’s Seth, her husband-to-be, the entire congregation seems to agree. Even her parents try to persuade Alice to go through with the wedding. As panic sets in, Alice’s world comes apart. Where is the real Seth, and why have all traces of him disappeared from her life? Fearing she’s losing her mind, she sets out to uncover the truth and escape the nightmare she’s living in. But with everyone around her convinced by the fake Seth, how can she ever hope to find the man she loves?

First things first, who is The Silent Bride? There was a bride in this novel, yes. Was she silent? No. She is anything but. For all its faults, The Silent Patient at least followed through when promising the silence of a patient. I’m so perplexed by the title of this book and truthfully, it was all downhill from there.

Now, I had high hopes for The Silent Bride. In fact, for the first 45% of novel, I was actually enjoying it. What do you mean the man waiting at the end of the aisle isn’t her fiancé? Why doesn’t she recognise him? How come no-one else at the wedding thinks he’s an imposter? It was a very intriguing premise and I was hooked.

Then, the novel started to go on, and on… and on. And as I got through 65% of the novel, I started wondering how the hell Boland was going to explain all of this. Was this some scam? Was he the Tinder Swindler come to life? Was this all a big prank? Nope. It’s more disappointing than that. I won’t give it away on the off chance you’ll want to pick this one up and see for yourself. All I will say is that you know the astral projection plot twist in Behind Her Eyes? It’s not completely unlike that. It’s not the exact same, but it’s not totally different. To put it lightly, I wasn’t a fan of Behind Her Eyes‘ twist and I’m certainly not a fan of this one.


Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

When Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Another confession to make is that I can sometimes be a bad bookworm. I received Heartless many, many years ago. It must have been late 2010s and it has sat on my bookshelf ever since. As the years went on, I forgot about it being there. Every so often, I would clean the bookshelf and be like ‘oh, I need to read that one!’ and then, I never did. I think my hesistancy to read Heartless has come from the fact I stopped reading YA as a genre. However, after getting back into Stephanie Garber’s books and also really enjoying The Inheritance Games (reviews to come soon!!), I thought it was time to give Heartless a shot. I was instantly transported back into my bookblr days and reminded of all the things I started to dislike about YA.

The amount of love that I’ve seen Heartless get baffles me. I’m not sure if it would’ve been a book that would have appealed to me more if I was in my teens. I haven’t read most of my teen faves like Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series or the Mara Dyer trilogy to know if they’ve stood the test of time. That being said, Heartless did feel childish. Not only did it have insta-love, which I absolutely loathe, but Cath was just a really dull main character. In fairness, there wasn’t much plot to work with. It was all ball gowns, tea parties and baking, which all felt incredibly stale. There was so much baking that Meyer may as well have turned this into a Wonderland recipe book.

I was promised a dramatic origin story for the Queen of Hearts. I was expecting it to be dark, bloody, villainous with a lot of the Wonderland magic and madness thrown in. This wasn’t it. It was hundreds of pages of roses, cakes and cheeriness. The most angry Cath ever was in the entire novel was over the fact she couldn’t open a bloody bakery. I feel annoyed on Lewis Carroll’s behalf.

THE CALL – ★★★★★

In a frantic midnight phone call, Ben learns his wife, Mia, has killed a man. And she needs his help. When Ben arrives at Mia’s hotel room, the scene is horrific – but over the course of the night it will get much worse. All their secrets will be uncovered, and they will discover how far they’ll go to protect themselves and each other… will they kill for love? Or will they die for it?

They have twelve hours to save their marriage, and their lives. The clock is ticking…

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Call, especially as someone who despises multiple narratives. However, the alternation between Ben and Mia’s perspectives and flashbacks really worked well for the story as they were both really engaging characters despite not being entirely likeable. I mean, Ben is a true ride or die and I have to admire that.

I read this on a loooong car ride back home from Dorset and absolutely blizted through it. It tackles a lot of heavy themes throughout but the dark humour was just *chef’s kiss* – it’s something you don’t see a lot of in thrillers and after reading The Call, is something I’ve discovered that I want more of from the genre.

As with all thrillers, you’ll have to suspend your disbelief a smidge at certain points. That being said, this was twisted, chilling, dramatic, riveting and just downright fun. It was one plot twist after another – I have never been more stressed out by a novel (but in the best way). I will definitely be reading more from this author in the future!

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